Getting Back to Nature

Nature Mysticism: A Postmodern and Age-old Wisdom of the Heart

August 19th, 2020

By Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Many early Celtic Christians drew heavily on the Gospel of John for their inspiration … Early Celtic Christians …. (were) seeking to find God’s physical presence in the natural world and the wonders of Nature. Their art, prayers, teachings, poems and writings are full of deep mystical insights into the activities of Nature. For the 14th and 15th century English mystic Julian of Norwich, God was seen in everything – the human body and the body of creation – and she insisted, as the early Celtic tradition had done, that both Nature and grace were one.

Similarly for many Hindu yogis, God and (Nature) are one and the same. The Srimad Bhagavata Purana (11.2.41) states that, “Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they all are organs of God’s body; remembering this, a devotee respects all species”. We can see that when we penetrate the deeper dimensions of Christianity and Yoga, we discover elements of Nature mysticism embedded within them ….

In fact, any experience of deep contact with Nature often helps in the healing process … and leads us to discover wider and more holistic perspectives of existence that inevitably enrich us in profound and life enhancing ways. Doctors now recognise that simply walking in Nature is one of the best exercises for physical health and mental well-being. … Deep within the majority of children and adults there is a natural sense of awe and wonder experienced when they look up at the multitude of stars that can be seen at night or contemplate the rich beauty of Earth and its colossal array of plants, flowers, trees, insects, animals and birds.

At weekends and on holidays our love of Nature often impels us to escape our brick and concrete buildings to find time to rediscover this natural element of spirituality …

Yet because of mass urbanisation and consumerist pressures and through seeing the world full of resources to plunder and exploit, humankind often does not realise that much of what is loved about the natural world will not be around for long unless a dramatic U-turns is made. Interestingly, all spiritual and mystical traditions are about waking up, becoming more aware of life, seeing how all things are interrelated, how skilful and unskilful actions have consequences, and through this understanding to become more responsible for our impact on Earth life. …

Prophets of our age such as Thomas Berry emphasised the importance of ‘the great work’ that lies ahead.  … Berry termed the new era of spirituality needed for our times ‘the Ecozoic era’: an era where humans live in mutually enhancing relationships with Earth and the Earth community – which is different to old ideas of stewardship – as it puts us humans on a more equal footing with the rest of Nature, instead of seeing humans as the peak of Creation.

Berry felt that we had lost our links with Earth because we no longer share myths and stories our early ancestors had that helped them find close bonds with the natural world. Because of this, what is now seen as a New Earth/Universe Story … was recognised by Berry and the evolutionary cosmologist Brian Swimme to be needed for humankind to reconnect with its roots and age-old quests for discovering meaning to life. … Before any God of scripture or God of humans, there has been a God of Nature. …

If we follow on from the paths of wisdom that have gone before and embrace wide visions of spirituality…, we will arrive at a more centred, nourishing and spiritual place. In the midst of such awakenings we tap into the power of authentic being …

Numerous spiritual traditions are about being awake to this potential, and the abilities and possibilities that are available to us in every moment, … This active form of spirituality is intrinsically bound-up with wholeness and compassion. It is bound-up with that which can naturally flow from us as a result of wholesome interconnections with all….